Wednesday 20 October 2021: The European Commission has announced that 21 of the most talented and inspiring women entrepreneurs working in Europe are in the shortlist for the EU Prize for Women Innovators 2021. The winners will be announced at the European Innovation Council Summit in Brussels on November 24-25.

Seven of the 21 entrepreneurs nominated for the finals are Irish. This year’s finalists are pioneering game-changing innovations across a wide range of industries and help tackle global challenges. The prize is funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe programme for research and innovation and managed by the European Innovation Council (EIC) and SMEs Executive Agency.

Five of the Irish projects are competing for three prizes of €100,000 each in the Women Innovators category. Ailbhe and Izzy Keane of Izzy Wheels are competing in the rising Innovator category that recognises excellent female entrepreneurs under the age of 30 and comes with a €50,000 award innovator category.

The success of these women-led start-ups reflects the strength, innovativeness and competitiveness of the start-up sector in Ireland according to Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon Europe at Enterprise Ireland: “This announcement is a phenomenal success for the finalists and for Ireland. It is a testament to the capability and talent of women leaders and entrepreneurs within the Irish innovation and commercialisation system. It also highlights the international competitiveness of Ireland’s women entrepreneurs and our Irish start-up community. In line with Enterprise Ireland’s strategy, these awards help promote Irish women entrepreneurs and provide a platform for them to build on their existing capabilities, scale and create jobs.

“The focus of the EIC on female entrepreneurship reflects the focus of Enterprise Ireland on a national level. We look forward to the announcement of the winners in each category in November. The Horizon Europe National Contact Points (NCPs) at Enterprise Ireland are looking to work with innovative start-ups, SMEs and researchers across all sectors to build on this success across the EIC and the wider Horizon Europe programme”.

The Women TechEU is also a brand new initiative of the European Union. The scheme offers first-class coaching and mentoring to female founders, as well as targeted funding to help take their business to the next level. Women TechEU offers:

  • Financial support to the company as an individual grant of EUR 75 000 to support the initial steps in the innovation process, and the growth of the company
  • Mentoring and coaching provided by the EIC Business Acceleration Services (BAS), under the new “Women Leadership Programme”, which include dedicated networking and pitching events
  • The possibility to participate in dedicated activities organised by InvestEU and Enterprise Europe Network.

The call for proposals is open and the deadline for submissions is 17:00 (CET) on 10 November 2021 – Women TechEU (

Irish Finalists:

  • Anita Finnegan (Ireland), co-founder and CEO of Nova Leah, a company offering cybersecurity risk management solutions for medical device manufacturers.
  • Ciara Clancy (Ireland), founder and CEO of Beats Therapeutics, a company developing technology solutions to tackle the mobility symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Lisa O’Donoghue (Ireland), founder and CEO of Votechnik, a company providing automated recycling technology for safe and sustainable disposal of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) units.
  • Patricia Scanlon (Ireland), founder and Executive Chair of Soapbox Labs, a company developing an innovative speech-recognition solution for children.
  • Suzanne Moloney (Ireland), founder and CEO of Hidramed Solutions, a company offering advanced wound care solutions for everyday care of chronic wounds.

The finalists in the Rising Innovator category are:

  • Ailbhe and Izzy Keane (Ireland), founders of Izzy Wheels. Their company creates fashionable wheel covers for wheelchairs.

For more information, read the EIC Announcement here and find Enterprise Ireland’s Women in Business Strategy here.